As Veterans Day 2018 – the 100th anniversary of the end of “The Great War,” – approaches, I wanted to take a moment to honor the patriotism and honorable, selfless service to our country demonstrated by America’s veterans. The dedication it takes to serve one’s country is incredibly admirable, and I have always tried to show my appreciation, not only in my daily life, but also in my business practices.
Every year on the Fourth of July, in the middle of all the backyard celebrations and fireworks displays, I like to pause and take a moment to remember the great men and women who make holidays like this possible. When I moved to America as a child, I was immediately struck by the patriotism and love for this country that is celebrated every Independence Day. I honor and celebrate all the veterans who make this holiday possible. I’d also like to introduce you to some veterans I’m proud to have in our Edible family.
With the approach of Memorial Day and all the summer kickoff backyard barbecues and pool parties, I once again want to take a moment to pause and reflect on the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
If you have been following my blog, you know that I have a soft spot in my heart for the men and women of our armed forces. The sacrifice they make on a daily basis is truly inspirational.
It’s the reason that I have gladly contributed to the International Franchise Association’sVetFran program and we started our own Hero’s Welcome program. Many of our top franchisees are former members of the military who have taken advantage of these programs to become business owners, and I want to make sure that many more have the chance to follow in their footsteps.
Now I am very pleased to announce that we will soon be opening our first Edible Arrangements location on a military base, thanks to the exhaustive efforts of franchisees Laverna and Martinez Alexander. The Alexanders will be opening at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in November. Fittingly, that is the month we celebrate both Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving.
This will be Laverna’s second Edible Arrangements store and the first for Martinez.
The story of how Laverna became a franchisee, however, is filled with twists and turns and, as she says, a little miracle.
She first became interested in Edible Arrangements in 2008 shortly after she had become a manager at a local jewelers. Laverna stopped by an Edible Arrangements store in Fayetteville, NC, to pick up an arrangement and, she says, “the moment I walked into that store I was moved.”
Laverna says she can’t explain why, but she couldn’t quit thinking about the store. So a few days later she decided to research the company and after discovering it was a franchise, she filled out our short online informational form. Within a few days she found herself on the phone talking to someone from Edible Arrangements named Moussa.
“I was so surprised to get such a quick response,” she said. “We laughed and talked, he asked me a few questions and then told me I was just the kind of person Edible Arrangements was looking for to own stores. I told him I was just fooling around with the idea because I had just started a new job.”
The calls and conversations continued every few weeks. Then, in September of 2008, Laverna was informed that the jeweler was going into liquidation and would be closing before the end of the year.
“What a blow,” she said.
Moussa, on the other hand, told her that it was a great opportunity to come out and visit Connecticut.
“He called me every week,” she said. “I finally told him, ‘let me close this store and maybe I will come early next year.’ ”
Laverna says she was exhausted after the store closed in December, but decided to sign up for a real estate course.
“I thought I would just try it for a while,” she said. “Moussa kept calling weekly to check on me and I was seeing Edible Arrangements everywhere, but I just kept blowing it off.”
Then, in the middle of her real estate courses, Laverna suddenly became ill and had to have emergency surgery. A few weeks later, as she was recovering, her mother told her that another Edible Arrangements was opening across town near Raeford.
“I was shocked,” Laverna remembers. “I stopped and thought to myself, ‘God is trying to tell me something.’ So I prayed, ‘God if this is what you want me to do, then give me the courage and conviction to do it, and I will start and not stop until it is done.’ ”
As soon as she had recovered, Laverna flew to our corporate offices where she toured the office and met some great people.
“I left there knowing this was what I was going to do,” she said. “I started my loan paperwork on June 1, it was approved June 30, and I signed my franchise agreement July 14.”
She opened her first store in February of 2010.
“It has not always been easy,” she admits, “but I am now in the beginning phases of opening my second Edible Arrangements and the first on any military installation ever! I am thrilled. Look at God! Thank you for the opportunity!”
I’m very thankful to the dedicated men and women who serve our country, as is the entire Edible Arrangements International organization. As I discussed a couple of weeks ago, we recognize the employment challenges some veterans may face upon returning home from deployment or after being discharged. That’s part of the reason for instituting Hero’s Welcome.
We have created a two-path program that provides our veterans the opportunity to achieve success, by one of two ways: Owning their own business as an Edible Arrangements franchisee, or working in one of our stores as a contributing team member with a promising career path.
It’s going to take some hard work and strong initiative to make this happen. One thing we certainly will need is a dedicated group of mentors and coaches amongst our current franchisees to help steer the program along and help our candidates achieve success as new Edible Arrangements franchisees or team members.
If you are a veteran and a member of the Edible Arrangements franchise system who feels qualified to provide such mentorship, and you’d like to help us make Hero’s Welcome a reality, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you additional information!
I’m beyond exciting for this wonderful opportunity to give back to those who have given so much.